Thanks to Denise for allowing me to guest-author on her blog.

Mary Beth King

Our regular eye doctor recently referred my husband to a specialist. The day before the appointment, the specialist’s receptionist called. I arrived home from work first and listened to the message. 

At first I wasn’t sure there was even a message there and finally made out a tiny, whispery voice. I hitched up the volume on our phone, reran the message and barely made out the Mouse squeaking almost inaudibly and incoherently fast to confirm my husband had an appointment the next day. He listened to the message when he got home and we both agreed this receptionist had a terrible phone manner.

He went to his appointment, was examined by the specialist and told to make a follow-up appointment. The young and apathetic looking Mouse was sitting at the front desk when he came out of the exam and stopped to schedule the follow-up. In her teensy, tinesy voice, she flatly told him she could not find him in the system – even though he had just met with the doctor. Voice and manner showed she had no intention of making any effort to find him in the system. My husband, never a patient man even in the best of circumstances, and I walked out.

The Mouse left a message again yesterday to schedule the follow-up. Again, we barely deciphered her machine gun fast, sotto voce message. He called this morning and the Mouse’s co-receptionist told him that she didn’t know anything about any follow-up and still didn’t have him in the system. She also showed the same disinclination to make any effort to help. He hung up and said ‘Never again.’

We speculated that both receptionists were either A. related to, or B. making whoopee with one of the doctors to be able to keep their jobs because they obviously had nothing else to recommend them.

My husband again called our regular eye doctor, whose competent and audible receptionist then referred him to another specialist with an equally audible and competent staff.

The whole incident made me reconsider my own telephone-side manner. Audible? Check. Coherent? Check. Do I care? Check.

Whether we speak face-to-face or by phone to members, fellow credit union professionals and other members of the public, I know most of us know the wrong answer is, to paraphrase the Mouse, ‘I don’t know’ in a rapid whisper. The right answer is ‘Let me find out and help you with that right now’ in clear, ringing tones.

Feeling smug and assured that you are never a Mouse? Good job.

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